10/11/2002 11:53 pm ET
Halos, Twins stage another thriller
By Kent Schacht / MLB.com
The Twins and the Angels played each other right into their similar strengths in Friday's pivotal Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.
Both clubs earned the right to be there thanks in large part to bullpen brilliance and the ability to win close games. And both had that scenario working after Minnesota battled the Angels to a 1-1 tie in the seventh.
The Twins had to go to their pen four times in a wild seventh, stopping one Angel run with a brilliant play by A.J. Pierzynski at the plate, and nailing an all-important zero to the board after J.C. Romero held Garret Anderson to a very long out instead of a grand slam.
In the eighth -- in what had to be discouraging for the Twins, who were surely ready to bust out after being stymied by lefty starter Jarrod Washburn all night -- Francisco Rodriguez (insert your own thought about how amazing this kid is here) needed just eleven pitches to
work through a perfect frame.
In the bottom of the eighth, Troy Glaus took advantage of a Romero mistake to break open the bullpen battle with a blast to right, giving the Angels the 2-1 lead, and for all intents and purposes, a 2-1 lead in the series. Over the last two seasons, the Angels were 155-2 when leading after eight innings, thanks to the domination of closer Troy Percival.
Friday's ninth was no different. Percival in? Angels win.
To get to Game 3's exciting finish, both teams had to exorcise demons. The Twins managed to get to Anaheim's
bullpen after scuffling through most of the game against lefty Washburn.
Washburn continued Minnesota's misery against southpaws in 2002. The Twins hit 30 points lower against lefties than they did against righties this season, and they were
struggling again Friday night until Jacque Jones broke his postseason slump with an RBI double in the seventh.
Meanwhile, Twins starter Eric Milton, who has had nothing but success against the Halos in his career -- including a no-hitter in 1999 -- held the Angels one run on five hits in six innings.
So while the Angels walk away from Friday's 2-1 classic with a crucial 2-1 lead
in the ALCS, fans of both teams can walk away with the anticipation of a possible Game 7 rematch of the same two starters. Based on the three magnificent matchups these two underdogs have treated America to so far, is there any reason to think there won't be a Game 7 next Wednesday in Minneapolis?
Kent Schacht is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.